In Tuesdayâ€™s New Britain Herald, reporter intern Petey Oneto noted that water can be the most refreshing thing in the world on a hot summer day - and, weâ€™d add, the most fun - but, for those who donâ€™t know how to swim, and even for some who do, it can also be incredibly dangerous.
There were an average of 3,536 unintentional drowning deaths in the U.S. every year in the decade from 2005 to 2014, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children ages 14 and younger accounted for one in five fatalities.
And while tragedy can strike anywhere, itâ€™s often city kids, who have never taken swimming lessons,who are the victims.
Another major hazard we have seen this summer are rivers and streams that can surprise even good swimmers with their rapid current.
In June, a 17-year-old Meriden man was swept away in the Connecticut River at Haddam Meadows State Park, while attempting to save a family member who was later rescued.
On July 9, a 10-year-old boy lost his life after falling into the Branford river. He was playing along the shore when he was swept into the rain-filled river and was sucked through a 48-inch pipe that runs from the marsh toward a waterway on the other side.
Bottom line: Every child and every adult should understand the dangers - and we all should know how to swim.
Oneto says that the YMCA accepts children as young as 6 months for classes.
We say: Sign up for a safer summer